Photography by Justin Chung
In most homes, a spare guest room is a rarely used space, generally left unoccupied except for the few times each year when friends and family stay overnight. But when architect Amanda Gunawan, the founding principal at OWIU (The Only Way Is Up), thoughtfully redesigned this loft in a former Nabisco factory in Los Angeles, she didn't want any space to go to waste. To fix the typical "unused guest room," Gunawan found inspiration in the Japanese ryokan, or traditional Japanese inn, in which futons and mats serve as sleeping areas for guests that can be rolled up and stored away when not in use. In her own loft, a platform hides a futon that can be pulled out when guests arrive, but otherwise, the area is used as a tea room.
Born in Indonesia and raised in Singapore, Gunawan knew she wanted a space that could accommodate frequent guests. "For me, I needed a guest room for when I have friends coming over from Singapore, but I also wanted the space to be useful when I didn't have guests, instead of being limited to just a guest bedroom. I rarely drink alcohol and enjoy having people over for tea instead. I have tea and sweets with friends very often and decided to come up with the idea of a multifunctional space, one that could serve as a guest room but also as a flexible space to have tea with friends or read," she explains.
Whether being used as a sleeping nook, tea room, or serene spot to chat, the multifunctional guest room has become a favorite hangout area for Gunawan's friends. "During parties, it is often the space that people flock to the whole time to escape a larger crowd. In a party of 10, I would see two to three people separate themselves from the party and go in there to just talk and bond. I've been told that my friends have had some of the most meaningful conversations they've had with each other in there, so we must've done something right!"
Photography by Justin Chung
Get the Look:
Ethereal Paper Lanterns
A Relaxing Lounge Chair
Since the entire loft sticks to a neutral color palette, the addition of textural elements (like caning) keeps things interesting. Gunawan found her cane lounge chair at France & Son, but we also appreciate this lookalike from Urban Outfitters.
A Timeless Tea Kettle
If cared for properly, this Japanese cast iron tea kettle will last for decades. Plus, the traditional hobnail design of the kettle will never go out of style.
The sleek shelves in the loft were a custom creation by Inflexion Builds.
For a simple spot to display pottery and plants, consider this wood and cane bookshelf.
For a calm and soothing space, take a cue from the architect's art choices: Look for abstract pieces that combine interesting shapes with a neutral palette.